The BBC is spot on in suggesting that Mozilla's Firefox is a gold mine waiting to happen, though it's unclear how Mozilla gets there from here. Could Firefox be one of the web's biggest beneficiaries as a platform? Absolutely. Does it want to be?
That's not so clear.
Firefox is dangerously dependent on Google for its income. But now, in the "awesome bar" [Scheduled to hit as part of Firefox's 3.0 GA release this June], it's got its own search engine which could, in theory, provide a very valuable stream of data about the browsing habits of hundreds of millions of internet users. Tristan Nitot claims that Firefox is approaching a 30% market share.
Mozilla isn't the sort of organization to profit from the private activities of its users, but what if we wanted to give up a bit of our privacy in order to glean additional benefits from our browsing experience? It could mean serious, new cash for Mozilla, which in turn would fuel the development of much more excellent open-source development.